FORMER New-Zealand rugby union player and global sporting icon Jonah Lomu has died at the age of 40.
Lomu scored 37 tries in 63 matches for New Zealand between 1994 and 2002 before being diagnosed with a serious kidney condition in 1996.
His illness forced him to end his career prematurely and he underwent a kidney transplant in 2004, but the organ stopped functioning in 2011.
A family spokesman told New Zealand television that Lomu’s death was “totally unexpected” after having arrived back on his native soil after spending time in the UK for the Rugby World Cup.
Lomu made his Test debut in 1994 against France in Christchurch and went on to become a renowned global superstar and emblem for his sport.
As well as playing for several domestic teams in his homeland, he made 10 appearances for Cardiff Blues in Wales between 2005 and 2006, before hanging up his boots.
Although he never won the World Cup, he is the joint top try-scorer in its history – alongside South Africa wing Bryan Habana, scoring 15 tries in 11 games. He shone at the 1995 and 1999 World Cup, where he unforgettably intimidated defensive back lines with his pure power, size and speed.
His famous bull-dozing of several players, including fully-back Mike Catt, on his way to scoring a try against England in the 1995 World Cup final has, and will continue to be, one of the most memorable moments in Rugby Union history. Indeed, his individual performance throughout the tournament has since been attributed for helping attract the major commercial deals that allowed the sport to grow and develop into the professional era it knows today.
However, a rare condition nephrotic syndrome thwarted the latter end of his career.
Lomu, who will be forever remembered as a giant of world rugby, had been working in the UK during the Rugby World Cup – a testimony to both the active role and heroic passion that he pursued in the sport in spite of his ongoing health problems.
Featured image: The Guardian